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Welcome Wednesday | Entry #2

Hey Welcome Team,

Do you remember what it was like to be new to a church? This week's excerpt from Becoming a Welcoming Church by Thom Rainier reminds us to be aware of those who are new and to make them feel welcome intentionally. How can we go out of our way to be hospitable to guests?

-Andrew
The Worst Part of the Guest Experience Takes Place Right before the Worship Service Begins
Most of you have been a guest at a church. So let’s replay the likely journey of visiting a church together. Keep in mind, this journey is especially important if you are looking at this church as a possible new church home. Joining us on this journey are Kathy and Jim. They will be our guides because they are the ones who actually helped me visualize the issue not too long ago.

Kathy and Jim really needed a good guest experience. They had a lot of frustration getting their three kids, all under the age of eight, ready for church. To exacerbate the tension, neither Kathy nor Jim had been in a church for a decade. They did not know what to expect. Fortunately, the church they were visiting had its act together . . . mostly. You’ll understand my caveat in just a few paragraphs. “They had a great website,” Kathy told me. “I was able to learn a lot about the church. I got the kids registered online so I didn’t have to worry about the paperwork when I got to the church. Really, everything we needed to know was on their website.” Jim added, “Getting to the church from the street and in the parking lot was a breeze. The church had great signage everywhere. We were able to find the parking spots for guests in no time.” “I think the people were genuinely friendly,” Kathy added. “They had real smiles on their faces. They greeted us warmly in the parking lot and when we entered the building. And folks were really helpful getting our kids to their areas.”

Kathy paused then added, “We really had an overall good experience. But, there was one part that just was not that good. It was the nine to ten minutes after we sat down in the worship center and before the services started. No one spoke to us. No one sat by us. No one even acknowledged us. It was really uncomfortable until the service began.” That, in essence, is one of the surprises we heard from guests. Even in incredible churches, very few members make the effort to greet and speak to someone already seated before the service begins. And, frankly, most church members don’t ever go sit with guests. Guests are most often overlooked in the few minutes right before the worship services. No one speaks to them or sits with them.
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Rainer, Thom S.. Becoming a Welcoming Church (pp. 16-17). B&H Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

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